Dentists have passed a no-confidence vote in Health Minister Stephen Donnelly as they say long waiting periods for routine appointments, a shortage of dentists, and ‘broken promises’ from the government amount to a system that is crumbling.
The no-confidence motion was passed ahead of the annual conference of the Irish Dental Association (IDA) in Kilkenny this weekend.
The results of a survey by the Association shows that more than half of patients are now waiting forced to wait longer than three months for specialist – such as orthodontic or oral surgery.
The survey also found that one in six patients are waiting over three months for an elective appointment – and that more than 50% of dentists have tried to hire a dentist in the past 12 months, with almost 60% of unable to find a suitable candidate.
The dentists’ body says the survey shows frustration at the Dental Treatment Service Scheme (DTSS), providing free services for adults over 16 who have a medical card, with 93% of dentists saying they would not sign up to the medical card contract in its current form during any talks on a new scheme.
In addition, 80% of IDA members who currently hold a DTSS contract say they are no longer able to take on or see new medical card patients
IDA President Eamon Croke said: “Our membership is beyond frustrated at the endless broken promises and false dawns by the Minister and his Department”.
“The recent vote of no confidence in the Minister by dentists shows how broken their trust is in a system and service that has no capacity or seen any meaningful commitment to reform.”
“The fact that an unprecedented 93% of dentists say that they would not sign up to the medical card contract in its current form even with the promise of a new scheme is indicative of a model which is not fit for purpose and directly impacts on the most vulnerable in our society,” he added.
Without action from politicians, patients will “continue to shoulder the burden of a system crumbling under decades of inaction and neglect”, Croke said.